Friday, September 12, 2008

The story of the best deal I've had in a loooong time:

Today is Friday, when I usually post a "Family Friday" entry, but I hope y'all will forgive me if I'm a little different this week.

You see, I have an amazing story that I'm bursting to tell, and because it is quite lengthy, I don't think I have the time to write both it and a Family Friday post.

And, after all, if I were to spend the day locked away from my family, typing about "Family Friday," it would be hypocritical, wouldn't it?

So with out further ado:

The Story

"Oh...well, thank you so much... You guys have a good night...Yes...Bye." Mom hung up the phone.

From my place in my bedroom that Friday night, I heard her tell Dad about her conversation with her brother. Somewhere in the conversation had been tucked a detail that I found interesting: my aunt and cousins had gone shopping at the mall that day and found out that our Belk was going out of business, and having a HUGE sale.

I'm not much on mall shopping.


I'm too frugal, I guess. I like to go in and look around now and then, for fun, but I rarely - and I mean rarely - buy anything there. In fact, I don't remember the last time I bought something from a store in the mall. What's the point in buying a $44.00 blouse when I can find it - with the price tag still attached - at GoodWill for $2.50? (Yes, my sister and I consistently find things there with the price tag and extra button in the little plastic bag still attached.)

But a sale at Belk - one of the mall stores I liked the most - and the magic words "75% off!" did wonders for this reluctant shopper.

You see, I have recently been getting more and more in the mood to fill my hope chest. I think hope chests are wonderful things, and that every keeper-at-home-minded girl ought to have one - be it a rubber maid tub, or an actual chest. It's certainly a frugal thing, to buy items (or fabric for homemade things) now, while I have a little extra money and not as many responsibilities to pay for, than to someday start out as a young wife on a tight budget and all sorts of household expenses to pay.

As far as housekeeping goes, there is a dream I have cherished since my mid-teen years; to have a lovely set of good quality stainless steel pots and pans for my kitchen someday.

My family smiled at my high tastes, but I couldn't help planning ways to save up and purchase a good set of pots and pans.

This was the first thought that entered my mind when Mom mentioned the sale at Belk. Our Belk has two levels, and the top floor is entirely filled with home items; sheets, quilts, comforters, aprons, towels, bathroom rugs, dishes, pots and pans, kitchen mixers, stoneware, silverware, kitchen gadgets, and so much more.

I could just see that set of pots and pans - somewhere - waiting for me to come pick it up at a cheap price.

"Oh Mom, can we go?"

"Would you like to? I think we can manage that some time this weekend, or next week."

And I was content with that.

But weeks fill up, and days become busy, and all during this week the sale at Belk was put off the schedule, replaced by more important duties. I stilled my impatience by reminding myself that if God was to be Lord of the home I hoped to have someday, then he was also Lord of what would go in it, and if He wanted me to buy a set of pots and pans, they would wait for me.

My older sister, Heather, and I finally planned to go shopping at Belk on Thursday morning. I was so excited. I had a little money set aside, and I was sure I'd find what I was looking for.

Around 10:30 Thursday morning, Heather was sitting on our living room couch, looking ill.

"Are you okay?" Mom asked.

Heather shook her head.

"Amber," Mom called to me, "I don't think you'd better go out this morning. Heather doesn't feel well."

I came into the room quickly, and cast a look at Heather. One look told me that Mom was right. I fought off the disappointment in my stomach, and told myself to stop being so selfish.

Heather went off to sleep, and I sat on the couch with my arms crossed. I couldn't be mad at Heather - this wasn't her fault. But I was sure that the shelves at Belk would be empty by the time we got there.

"Now, Amber, if the Lord wants you to buy something, it will still be there," Mom told me.

"I know, Mom. ...I just don't want to take that too far."

"What is it that's so important for you to get?"

"I want to find a set of stainless steel pots and pans," I sighed.

"Well, I'd go shopping with you, only I'm not going to leave everyone here in the middle of the morning. We have school to do."

"I know, Mom. I'm not asking you to take me."

"What about if I took you this afternoon, right after you teach History? We could leave someone here with Heather, and the rest of us could all go shopping."

"Oh Mom - would you? That would be great!"

"Okay - that's what we'll do."

* * * * * *

Several hours later, we were in the lower floor of Belk, browsing the clothing clearance racks. I kept casting glances toward the escalator, thinking about the top floor, but I took my time looking through the clothing.

I checked the price tag of a dress on sale - $44.99. Originally $102.89.

I smiled and dropped the tag.

"When are we gonna go upstairs?" Tiffany, my younger sister hung on my arm like a beautiful blossoming pea vine clings to a trellis.

"You can't wait to ride the escalator, can you?" I teased.

She grinned.

"Are you ready to go upstairs?" Mom asked me.

I nodded, trying not to seem too eager.

As the moving staircase carried us up, and the wonders of the top floor unfolded all around us, I felt my stomach squeeze. Today I was shopping to buy!

Splitting up, my mother and Tiffany headed towards one section, one brother headed another way, and my younger brother Justin and I headed still another way. We browsed through all sorts of bedding and towels. Justin seemed to find the most interest in pointing out how even the things on "sale" were extremely high compared to ...say... WalMart.

I had noticed the same thing, and a nervous feeling began growing in my stomach.

I purposefully left the kitchen section for last. As we entered it, I saw a display of a really nice pot and pan set.

On sale.

For $250.00.

The bills I was carrying in my purse suddenly seemed very light and small.

I slipped into one of the quiet side aisles and fingered a box of dishes. "Lord," I whispered, "I'm doing what I should have done before we even left home. I'm praying that I'd do Your will here. I pray that You would provide only what You would have me buy. Please, show me what the wise thing to do is. I can't afford so much that I've seen here. I don't want to be wasteful and a bad steward. Help me, please, know what to do."

Justin was great at helping me find every set of stainless steel pots and pans in that area. They weren't all grouped together, but scattered within the kitchen section. We finally found a small back corner that contained three reasonably priced sets. Well, pretty reasonable. The price was still higher than I had expected, but I could afford it.

Finding Mom, and bringing her to that back corner, I asked her opinion. I handled the display pieces for each set, praying and thinking. What would God have me do? Should I buy at all? If so, which set was the better investment?

After much time spent in that little corner, I felt an amount of peace concerning one of the sets, and asked my brother to carry it to the checkout stand. As he lifted it, I looked at the side of the box, and read the shiny white letters on a black background.

"Professional Cookware!"

"Safe for any cooking surface!"

"Aluminum enclosed in the base, for even heat distribution!" I knew that was a sign of good quality.

"Stay-cool handles!"

"Oven and Dishwasher safe!" The pans being oven safe was something I had been hoping for.

When we got to the checkout, the lady cashier scanned the box, and cheerfully told us "we have a special going on today, and you get an extra 10% off your purchase - even things already on sale! That will be $133, please."

Her first sentence made me want to cheer, but her last one made me look at Mom with wide eyes. My hand froze where it was, plunged into my purse. "Did she say '$133'?"

Mom looked at me, then back at the lady. "That isn't what the sign said." Mom named the sale price the sign had shown.

"Would you mind showing me where you got this box?" I could hear skepticism in the cashier's voice.

"Sure." I led the way back to the shelf, and showed her the sale sign.

She picked it up and looked at it. "Hmm. Well, we'll have to give you the advertised price."

Back at the cash register, while pushing buttons, she told me what the original price of the set was. I wanted to drop my mouth when I heard. No wonder she didn't believe Mom when she told her what the sale sign had said! The had obviously been a mistake - at the "real" sale price, I would have never picked this set. But because the mistake had been theirs, the store policy was to sell it to me at that price. I won't tell you what it was, but it only had two digits, instead of three.

Again, the lady subtracted that extra ten percent and, this time, when she told us the final price, I wanted to cheer. I couldn't believe I was walking away with this wonderful set at that price!

"Well, Am, I think that was the Lord," Mom looked over at me as we walked out.

I nodded silently. I knew that I would always consider this set of pots and pans as a personal gift from Him. He had answered my prayers - not by giving me supernatural wisdom, but by directing my steps without me knowing it.

When we got back to the house, I looked at the receipt. In bold black numbers and letters at the bottom, it proclaimed:

You saved $199.01 today!

I shook my head in wonder.

That all happened yesterday. The box of pots and pans is still sitting in our living room, waiting for me to find a place to store it. Every time I walk by and look at it, I feel like yelling "thank You!"

I hope I always feel that way when I look at them. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a home someday filled with items that make me think of the Lord like that?


Mom2fur said...

Wowwee, that is great! You sure were in the right place at the right time. A nice set like that will last you the rest of your life. Use it in good health!

Lynn said...

Thanks for sharing that story. It is a great one.

Ashley said...

Wow! What a great find! You have given me the great idea to get things like pots and pans for my hope chest. Thanks!

Ashley~of Bowery Hollow

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is amazing. The LORD is amazing. :) Thanks for sharing.

Jessica Morris said...

That is a great story!
And how neat will that be to one day be cooking with those pots?! It will be a daily (visual) reminder of God's provision!

Sarah said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing, Amber! I can well imagine your excitement. :)

Amber said...

You ladies are so sweet to share in my excitement. The set certainly will be a daily visual reminder of the Lord.

I'd like to welcome several of you to my blog - those of you who haven't posted on here before. Hope you enjoyed your visit!

Ashley of Bowery Hollow - Yes, I would encourage you to think about putting "larger" purchases in your hope chest, such as a pot and pan or dish set. It will be nice to already have them when you set up housekeeping.

Mom asked me "what are people going to give you at your shower someday?" and I told her I'd rather make the big purchases myself, and leave the smaller ones for my generous friends. :)

I would say, though, to be certain that your tastes won't change before you have your own home. Mine have stayed fairly consistent, except in minor details, but you would hate to buy something you LOVE now, and will hate looking at later!